PAST OLYMPIC GAMES IN THE UNITED STATES
cities have hosted Olympic winter or summer Games on eight occasions.
To see and learn more about these Games, just select one of the following
third Olympic Games were held concurrently with the Louisiana Purchase
Exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri.
in the 1900 Paris Games, poor planning and poor organization made
the sports competitions a sideshow to the larger fair. While hundreds
of sporting contests were staged over a four-month period, most
were not Olympic events.
were no athletes from England, France or Sweden; even Pierre de
Coubertin did not attend. According to one estimate, as many as
80 percent of the athletes were Americans.
highlights for women were few. Women's golf and tennis, which were
on the program in 1900, did not take place in St. Louis. Women competed
in only one sport - archery.
first Olympic winter competition outside Europe took place in the
tiny New York village of Lake Placid. Located in the Adirondack
Mountains, 480 kilometers (300 miles) north of American winter sports
economic depression of the 1930's and Lake Placid's distance from
Europe adversely affected athletes' attendance. Only 17 nations
sent athletes compared to 25 at St. Moritz in 1928.
skating was a highlight of the Games, attracting capacity crowds
for the first time in Olympic history. Although figure skating was
the only "medal sport" for women at Lake Placid, Canadian
and American women also competed in speed skating as a demonstration
in the midst of a worldwide economic depression, the 1932 Games
represented a triumph of the Olympic spirit. Organized on a grand
scale, the Games attracted the athletes of 37 nations and more spectators
than any previous Games.
of 100,000 filled the main stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum,
for Opening and Closing Ceremonies; 40,000 to 80,000 attended events
there daily. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people viewed the
pleasant weather throughout the Games contributed to outstanding
athletic performances. Women set new records in every athletics
(track and field) event at the Coliseum and all but one race at
the outdoor swimming stadium.
international Olympic Committee's decision to award the Winter Games
to the United States a second time resulted from the efforts of Alexander
Cushing. Cushing, the persuasive developer of a fledgling ski resort
near the California-Nevada border, hoped to promote his new ski area,
Squaw Valley, by staging the Olympic Winter Games.
spent nearly $9 million constructing new facilities. The organizing
effort culminated with an Opening Ceremonies planned by Walt Disney.
The athletes of 30 nations looked on as Vice President Richard Nixon
declared the games open.
Valley was the first Winter Games seen by an American television
audience. Another Squaw Valley "first" was the addition
of speed skating as the fourth women's Olympic winter sport.
1980 Winter Games opened less than seven weeks after the Soviet Union's
1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Responding to the invasion, United States
President Jimmy Carter, in January 1980, threatened to organize a
boycott of the 1980 Summer Games at Moscow if the Soviet Union did
not withdraw its troops.
the Lake Placid organizers had problems with cost overruns, ticket
distribution and, during the first days of competition, the public
of these problems, however, detracted from the drama of the sports
competition. For the host Americans, two stories were particularly
dramatic. One was the surprising gold medal performance of the United
States' ice hockey team. The other was the success of American speed
skater Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals.
Games attracted a record-number 140 nations, despite a boycott by
the Soviet Union and several of its political allies.
took place throughout Southern California across an area encompassing
4,500 square miles. Three Olympic Villages, two in Los Angeles and
one in Santa Barbara, were needed to house the athletes.
by Paul Ziffren and Peter Ueberroth, the organizing committee realized
a surplus of $225 million following the Games. Sixty percent of
the money was given to the United States Olympic Committee. The
rest was used to create the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles
to promote youth sports.
new women's events appeared on the program including the first Olympic
2009 is the 25th anniversary of the 1984 Games. For detailed
information on the story of the Los Angeles Games and their legacy, click here.
hosted the Centennial Games of the modern Olympic Movement. The 1996
Games were the largest in history, featuring nearly 11,000 competitors.
Games were marred by a bomb explosion in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic
Park on July 27, resulting in two deaths. Problems with transportation
and computer systems, particularly during the first week, also plagued
the Games. Public enthusiasm, however, remained high throughout
the Games. Spectators purchased a record 8.6 million tickets, and
massive crowds visited Centennial Park following its reopening on
Lake City organized the largest Olympic Winter Games in history. Events
took place in Salt Lake City itself and at several other venues in
the vicinity. More than 2,500 athletes competed in a record-number
78 events. Among the new events were women's bobsleigh, men's and
women's skeleton, and men's and women's 1.5-kilometer cross country
German team won the most medals, 35, including 12 gold. Norwegian
athletes won the second highest number of gold medals with 11. Meanwhile,
United States athletes, perhaps benefiting from the "home field"
advantage and heightened levels of financial support from the United
States Olympic Committee, won 34 medals, their best Winter Games
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was the Games' most-decorated athlete, winning
four gold medals in biathlon events. Janica Kostelic, of Croatia,
was the star of alpine skiing, winning three gold medals and one
athletes, Olympic officials and the media widely praised the Salt
Lake City Games. The venues were attractive, volunteers were friendly
and helpful, transportation worked well and public gathering places
such as the Olympic Medals Plaza in Salt Lake City and Main Street
in Park City provided a festive atmosphere. Security throughout
the Games was tight, but not overly obtrusive.
Games, however, were not without controversy. In late 1998, revelations
that the Salt Lake City Olympic bid committee had given money and
other gifts to some members of the International Olympic Committee
during the bidding process led to a major scandal. Four IOC members
resigned because of their role in the scandal, the IOC expelled
six other members, and the president and vice president of the organizing
the first week of the 2002 Games, a public outcry arose following
the pairs figure skating competition in which the judges' awarded
the gold medal to a Russian pair and the silver to a Canadian pair.
Many people believed that the Canadian pair should have won the
event. Citing a recommendation of the International Skating Union,
the IOC awarded two gold medals in the event - one to the Russians
and another to the Canadians.
drug testing methods also resulted in several athletes testing positive
for prohibited substances. Three cross country skiers and one alpine
skier were caught in post-event tests. The IOC revoked their medals
in those events.
to next section: Section X - Tomorrow's Olympic Games
Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, January, 1996; November, 1997;
February, 1999; April 2001; March 2002.
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